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Friday, October 22, 2010

Give Your Input

Whose fault is it when adolescent kids take the wrong path in life? Give me your 5 cents.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monique Limon Knows What She's Talking About

By Silvia Uribe

Monique Limón is not the only one, but she is definitely a shining example of a success story from our high schools—and her story is just starting.

I met Monique Limón this summer during the Education Achievement Summit in Santa Barbara, organized by Just Communities among others. It brought together important stakeholders and showed all participants what an open and sincere dialogue plus the decision to improve our school district can accomplish. The summit had around 80 participants.

It didn’t take most participants long to be interested in what Limón had to say. The points she made were crucial, and her eloquent way of presenting them was not only smart but refreshing. Coming from someone who is not only a former student in the Santa Barbara School District, but whose meteoric career path has made her a highly ranked administrator at UCSB, her observations packed a wallop. She knows first-hand what our schools already offer, and what they lack. Then, I learned that she was running for Santa Barbara School Board of Trustees.

After that day, I’ve had several opportunities to talk to Limón and to learn more about her and about what she stands for. Limón is a petite woman who’s all vitality and smiles. In her eyes, however, one can see the strength of someone who’s determined to fight for what she believes. She appears to me to be a true leader.

I asked her to share a little bit with Grapevine readers, considering the influence that she would have over Goleta Valley Junior High, San Marcos High, and Dos Pueblos High, which are located in our backyard.

How would you describe yourself?

“I am a native of Santa Barbara and a product of our local schools and community. I am committed to enhancing the educational and career opportunities for Santa Barbara residents through my work as an educator in our community.”

In short, what's your background?

“As a Santa Barbara local, I began my education as a first generation. college-bound, English as a Second Language (ESL) student and transitioned into honors and the GATE program. I earned my BA from UC Berkeley and MA in education from one of the country’s top graduate schools in education: Columbia University, Teacher’s College.

“I have spent much of my professional career working with and mentoring students of all ages as well as working with families in Santa Barbara County. As a program advisor for the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), I coordinated the Parent School Partnership program, and financial aid workshops for all high school seniors and parents, and facilitated the “Transfer: Making It Happen” (California Senate Bill 1898) program for local schools in our district. In my current position at UCSB, I serve as the assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program, where I provide leadership and manage a U.S. Department of Education program. I am also an instructor for Interdisciplinary Studies Courses for undergraduate students at UCSB.”

Why now, and why the School Board?

“My experience as a teacher, administrator, and program manager over the past eight years has allowed me to develop a deep and complex understanding of public education. I am committed to continue enhancing educational and career opportunities for our community. My knowledge and understanding of our educational system brings a much-needed perspective in student learning and achievement to the San Barbara School Board.”

How will your previous professional experience help the board, the students, and the parents?

“I have been an effective educator and a promoter of higher education in our community. I have worked with more than 3,000 junior high and high school students and more than 400 parents advising them on issues such as college prerequisites, financial aid, and career opportunities. These experiences have and will contribute to decision-making on the school board level. It is important to have leaders who are not only qualified to make policy and fiscal decisions, but who also understand the impact these decisions will have on our students both in and outside of the classroom.”

Name your three main goals to accomplish.

“As a member of the Santa Barbara Board of Education, I hope to address the challenges of budget cuts by drawing upon my experience working with state and federal educational programs that required responsible fiscal oversight and expect quantitative and qualitative outcomes. Student achievement is a historical problem that requires stakeholder engagement and starts with parent involvement. Our schools face many challenges and also battle with the realities of shifting priorities determined by the daily needs of our schools and demands/impact of state policies. I will work to achieve the right balance between our state and local priorities to work toward sustaining successful schools.”

Why should people vote for you?

“As someone who has been part of the Santa Barbara community for more than three decades, I bring a diverse range of experiences that include serving on a county commission, local nonprofit boards, and managing programs focused on student achievement and increasing parental involvement. My work in education, our community, and understanding of our local schools gives me a winning combination of experiences that are needed for our school board.”

By now, you probably agree with me that this candidate is like no other, in her background, her vast experience, and her energy. To volunteer or to learn more about Monique Limón’s campaign, please go to her Web site or send an email to

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Also published at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Latinos lack strategy for an Immigration Reform

By Silvia Uribe

Politics in the U.S. is like a soccer game: each player has a role on the field, each is equally important for the team, and the team has a strategy, and a goal. We Latinos certainly have an abundance of players, but we are not yet organized as a team, and unfortunately, we lack strategy, and our goal is a blur. This is why Latinos rarely score in politics, and victory is a pleasure we seldom enjoy.

If this sounds a little harsh to you, think again. Today, The Pew Hispanic Center’s (PHC) published the results of a survey. Among other things it tells us that "immigration does not rank as a top voting issue for Hispanics. Rather, they rank education, jobs and health care as their top three issues of concern for this year's congressional campaign.”

How can this be? If Latinos don’t see the Immigration Reform as the most important issue, why should others? If this is not important enough for Latinos to demand, and vote for - with 11 million undocumented Latinos – then why should it be important for those that benefit from a disorderly situation?

When will we, as Latinos, be able to recognize the political power that we could have? When are we going to wake up to a reality that is very obvious to everyone, but ourselves? Everyone else in the U.S. seems to understand that the Latino vote is crucial, but since we don’t go out to the polls, they keep just promising stuff, and giving us a rhetorical piece that may sound good, but in the end, continues to harm our own, our brothers and sisters’, and our children’s future.

The good news is, according to the same survey, as a group, Latinos are still very much in support of the Democratic Party. “Two-thirds (65%) of Latino registered voters say they plan to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district, while just 22% support the Republican candidate, according to a nationwide survey.”

The bad news is that, when it comes to actual intent to vote, only “51% of the Latino registered voters said they feel motivated to do so, while 70% of all registered voters said they are absolutely certain they will.” This is what I’m talking about, and this happens time after time.

It is encouraging to see that most Latinos realize that the Democrats are the party that has more concern for Hispanics. The point is that our tendency of not showing to the voting polls can only harm us, particularly with a pending Immigration Reform now, and in the future, with the Education Reform.

We seem not to understand timing, and timing is of essence in politics.

Interestingly enough, the PHC survey also found that 58% of Latino registered voters who have had conversations about the immigration policy debate with someone are more motivated to vote in the upcoming election compared to the 39% who haven't.

Whoever said that people should not talk about politics was wrong. On the contrary. We need to talk about the important political issues that affect our life. We need to inform others, and encourage them to vote. We need to tune-in. We cannot waste more time.

It is now, and it is us.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino Perspective.